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The year VoIP came back from the grave.

update: FCC sees VoIP as the future.


I don’t want to go on the cart!

Some of you may remember rumblings in the blogosphere, “VoIP died or VoIP is dead” around this time last year. Whatever the context, I think it should be clear by now the VoIP is not dead, nor dying. As a matter of fact, VoIP has never been less dead.

Some may argue that I am taking some of those statements out of context. Semantics. Some said “buddy list” centric calling is the future, hence VoIP is dead, again – semantics.

Call it what you like, VoIP is here to stay, Mobile VoIP is only just getting started.

Give it 5-10 years (not long considering the PSTN has been around for more than 100 years) and everything will be * over IP, including Voice and Video.

Will Rogers follow AT&T's lead and allow VoIP over 3G? Yes.

Now I can get it on the App Store!

Yes, they will.

Jailbroken iPhone running VoIP over 3G on Rogers

Jailbroken iPhone running VoIP over 3G on Rogers

1. Rogers has cornered the GSM market in Canada and is the only carrier to offer the iPhone, but that is about to change. Telus and Bell have tag-teamed to erect an HSPA+ network and will be offering the iPhone as early as next month. Just in time for the holiday season and with plenty of time to ready themselves for the 2010 games in Vancouver.

It’s true that 3G is not yet ubiquitous which mean VoIP over 3G is not something that will drive massive adoption in the near term, but it will be enough of a detractor for a good percentage of the users to not choose Rogers if Telus and Bell allow VoIP over 3G on the iPhone.

2. Rumors have it that Globalive / Wind Mobile is hot on trail of Rogers and will be completing Phase 1 of their network build-out as early as this spring. They too might be carrying the iPhone. None of the big three want to get beat out by the new guy on the block.

3. Other devices on the Rogers network already have apps that deliver VoIP over 3G service. It’s not the network that is the limiting factor here, it’s the Apple app store and the contract they have with the carriers representing the iPhone.

4. Net Neutrality. I am sure that Rogers would like to avoid getting dragged into the same kind of kerfuffle the FCC has been crowing about in the US. The Internet does not stop at the desktop, so why should those it be left out of such conversations, it simply shouldn’t.

It’s should also be clear that Apple would prefer it if the carriers would allow VoIP over 3G. It would mean more devices sold and more interesting apps in the app store. I just can;t see Apple saying “no thanks” to VoIP related (product and service) revenue in the app store.

I think the question is more a matter of ‘when’ as opposed to ‘if’. Hopefully it’s soon!

iPhone Video to launch at WWDC?

Update: Yes, it was indeed launched and it’s called the iPhone 3G S but no video calling as yet.

There are rumors abound regarding the next release of the iPhone, every tech blog known to man is all over this like a fat kid on a smarty.

The iPhone 3.0 SDK has pretty much been proven to support video so a iPhone Video product seems to make sense. What kind of video? Recording full frame video is one thing but transporting that over 3G is quite another. My guess is it will not support real-time streaming or video calling on 3G, the question is will it deliver the goods on WiFi.

It will be interesting to see what happens at WWDC (running from the 8th to the 12th), the new iPhone is sure to launch at this event.

Canada Gets Skype for iPhone, Not.

Tom does some handy investigative work and finds out that Skype has been banned from use in Canada due to a legal issue around what seems to be a codec related patent.

Excerpt:
I then asked if other countries were affected or if it was just Canada and was informed it was just Canada. When asked whose patent it was or what category it involved (i.e. mobile VoIP), the representative told me, “I can’t go into many more details other than it’s codec related.”

That really bites. I was hoping to do some testing via Skype for iPhone on the new Skype for SIP on Response Point.

Siemens Demos A Potential Cloud-Based UC Offering

Are you at VoiceCon? If you are, make sure you visit Siemens’ booth for a demo of a potential CaaS offering residing in Amazon’s EC2 environment. Unfortunately, I cannot make it to Orlando this year, but I can’t wait to hear/see more details. (And no, the picture above is not part of the demo :))

Not only does this eventual partnership bring Siemens to the forefront of UC innovation once again, but it can also give a boost to hosted UC and Communications as a Service (CaaS), as well as to UC, in general. Such a partnership marks a trend that will grow over the next few years and will be eagerly pursued by all leading communication and business application vendors. Time to market is a critical factor, though, and the trend-setters can both gain a competitive advantage and/or suffer the consequences of market immaturity. For the sake of Siemens, their customers and even their competitors, I hope they do it right from the start!

A potential OpenScape deployment in the Amazon cloud is significant, because it opens up a whole new growth opportunity for UC. As a hosted (CaaS, cloud) offering, it provides flexibility and a less risky entry point for customers that are willing to trial UC but have limited capital budgets. By leveraging a partner that already has an enormous brand recognition and marketing abilities, Siemens has just created a channel for its UC solution, that expands its addressable market well beyond the reach of its direct sales force.

It is too early to predict exactly how successful this partnership is going to be, but we can speculate. Although demand for CaaS and UC in general is growing, even a joint endeavor of this magnitude cannot overcome the numerous barriers to adoption including the general economic climate, availability of legacy infrastructure and customer hesitation about which vendors and platforms to choose. Further, while this partnership creates marketing and sales opportunities, how will services be handled? Which party will businesses turn to for CPE (phones, gateways, etc.) installation, maintenance and evolution/migration? If the entire premise-based infrastructure is up-to-date and all that’s needed is a hosted presence component, it may be a favorable scenario for this kind of solution. But if the CPE needs to be upgraded, will customers handle the migration and the new integration with the hosted service or will they call someone and who would that be?

There are a lot of further implications from that announcement. For example, this CaaS solution threatens hosted UC providers that are dependent upon their hosted telephony business to grow. Given the larger CPE base, a hosted UC platform that integrates with premise-based solutions has a greater potential than end-to-end hosted services. With Siemens’ superior OpenScape voice capabilities, a fully hosted package, if properly delivered (from sales to installation to management) can dramatically impact the hosted telephony and hosted UC markets, which are currently very fragmented and populated by multiple small providers with limited technology capabilities and sales resources.

Overall, a potential OpenScape UC in the cloud is good news for the industry and worth monitoring closely going forward. The concept is great, but let’s see how Siemens handles the execution.

 

Do you think soon we will be shopping for communication services like we do for books and CDs? Will we trust what we see on the Internet? Won’t businesses still look for a more direct touch, e.g. a call/visit by a knowledgeable consultant? Is the Amazon brand as popular with businesses for business solution shopping as it is with consumers? I have many questions. Let me know if you have the answers.

Google Voice vs. Response Point with ITSP

VS  

I will admit, this is a bit of a silly comparison but the truth is that I have had a few customers (and some analysts) asking for some clarification on the new Google Voice offer and how it may compete with Response Point when coupled with an ITSP. The fact is they really do not compete in any measurable way and they could easily compliment each other.

Major Differences

The obvious major difference is that Response Point is a small business phone system, Google Voice is really a service offering targeted at individuals.

When we combine Response Point with an ITSP (Internet Telephony Service Provider) we start seeing some similarities in the services between the two offers but they are really meant for 2 distinctly different purposes.

Response Point offers an actual premise-based system with a base unit, handsets and features like; auto-receptionist, DID integration, hunt groups, voice mail to email integration etc. All of the things one would expect when purchasing a small business phone system.

Google Voice service is an overlay service on whatever you have today, so if your existing phone system is simply not cutting it, it’s unlikely that Google Voice is going to be able to transform it into the system of your dreams. It’s true that Google Voice will allow you to take advantage of certain features but don’t expect to find a Park, Hold or Transfer or anything fancy like speech recognition.

Google Voice is an inbound-centric service. Most features can only be used with an inbound call, that includes call recording and call joining.

How they play nice together

One could use the Google Voice – simulring feature to call your Response Point phone number and at the same time it could call your mobile.

Google Voice – call recording is a handy feature that is currently not a feature offered in the Response Point system.

Google Voice – voice mail transcriptions is a handy way to receive visual voice mails via email and SMS.

Google Voice – call widgets allow users to put callback widgets on a website. This will allow the visitor to put in their phone number and the system will call them and then it will call your Google Voice number.

Google Voice – SMS is a cool way to compose, accept and manage text messages while maintaining control over the devices associated with that service.

Potential ‘Gotchas’

The Google Voice service is only available in the US. Even US subscribers can only forward/simring their Google Voice numbers to other US numbers but that is likely to change to include international countries in the near future.

In theory, the Google Voice call should go wherever the media is sent. Call Routing results may vary depending on the Response Point ITSP you choose.

When calling out, your existing phone number (Caller ID) will be presented to the callee unless you use the dial-out feature, which is (IMHO) a bit of a hassle. This causes some problems as most of us are used to calling people back on the number we last saw from them. Fortunately, many ITSPs (unlike the conventional phone companies) will allow you to change your Caller ID number to match your Google Voice number.

Google Voice does not address LNP (Local Number Portability) at all right now. Which means you can not bring your existing numbers to Google Voice, you have to choose a new number.

Response Point Rapid Turn Around

First off let me just say that this team continues to blow me away. They listen and respond, go figure!

Yesterday the RP team addressed some concerns over loosing “barge-in” in the latest Service Pack and added that feature back in for a new build, now available. Yep, you heard right. This is not a patch, it’s a new build. If you know anything about the development of commercial software you would certainly agree that a 2 week turnaround (from SP 2 launch in Miami) on a new build is pretty damn impressive.

In addition, they have seemed to fix a few issues that I missed in my first pass/review of SP2. Since I am a Mac guy, I run all of my Windows software in a VM. Until SP2 there were a few quirky issues (Netbios ?) that made it impossible to do a few things easily or at all. The use of Assistant was simply not there on a VM and Administrator needed the base unit IP to connect. Sending recording prompts to phones (record name, greetings, etc) would belch as well. The RP team seemed to have remedied all of those issues with this release. Administrator and Assistant now work seamlessly, which means they work on a Mac, which makes me happy.

SMB Phone Goes to Market with Response Point

For those at IT Expo, this free session is about to begin in Room 109.

4. An Integrated Solution: SMB Phone Goes to Market
with Response Point

3:00 – 4:00 pm

SMB Phone is a unique VAR and ITSP. Come learn how they identified Response Point as a key technical and business component in their nation-wide go to market programs focused on SMBs.

Presented by:
Trent Johnsen, Vice President, Business Development, SMB Phone

Response Point Service Pack 2 (SP 2) is GA

The Response Point team have done it again. Response Point SP 2 is now generally available.

Some new features include:

– 1 way paging

– 2 way intercom

– After hours / time of day rules

– Out of band DTMF

Tom has a great in-depth review of SP2!

SMB Phone Launches SMB Digital Voice for Canadian Small Business

SMB Phone announces Microsoft Marketing Alliance for Response Point and launches SMB Digital Voice™ in 48 markets to provide enhanced choice and services for Canadian small medium businesses

Response Point and SMB Digital Voice enable reliable communications for small businesses in Canada.

February 2, 2009, IT Expo East, Miami, “The World’s Communication Conference”
SMB Phone Inc., a new Canadian telecom carrier created exclusively for Microsoft Response Point services announces, simpler, smarter and easier phone service for Canadian small business, in partnership with Microsoft.

The Microsoft and SMB Phone marketing alliance heralds a new era of affordable, feature rich, easy-to-manage, easy-to-use business communications integrating voice recognition, email, computer and mobile services for small medium business in Canada. Canadian small medium businesses now have affordable, easy, online access to a new generation of business communication features and services with Microsoft Response Point and SMB Phone.

Response Point is the highly innovative, award winning telephone system from Microsoft designed specifically for small medium businesses with up to 50 users. Extremely easy to afford, manage and use, Microsoft Response Point provides small medium business customers unprecedented control over a rich suite of business communications features including voice recognition enabled auto-attendant and user features, integration with the Windows desktop for inbound caller ID, click to call, and call control functions, voicemail to email delivery, extensive call history and call detail reporting, and seamless call integration with mobile devices. SMB Phone President, Erik Lagerway comments:

“A phone system is a strategic investment for businesses today. Response Point enables business owner managers to serve customers more effectively, reduce and control costs and provides employees the means to increased productivity.”

“SMB Phone is demonstrating an innovative, progressive approach as a Canadian market leader and certified Response Point service provider,”

John Frederiksen, general manager, Microsoft Response Point, had this to say,

“The combination of Microsoft Response Point and SMB Phone’s Digital Voice services provide Canadian small and medium sized businesses with outstanding functionality and value including the ability to activate a new business line in minutes within any of SMB Phone’s 48 markets using SMB Phone’s automated Response Point activation process. We look forward to our continued work with SMB Phone as we serve and grow our Canadian Response Point customer base.”

SMB Phone’s Digital Voice service is designed specifically for Response Point users and provides an alternative to “POTS” (Plain old telephone service) lines with enhanced features at lower costs, instant service activation, and is easier to manage than traditional business telephone lines. SMB Digital Voice features include:

– instant activation of new SMB Digital Voice lines directly through Microsoft Response Point Administrator software
– digital line groups provide for multiple simultaneous calls
– Direct Dial numbers for employees, departments, projects etc.
– unlimited North American long distance usage
– Cellular toll bypass to eliminate cellular long distance charges
– “cloud” number administration service for remote call control management
– “virtual presence” numbers provide a local phone number anywhere in Canada

SMB Phone Inc. is making small medium business communications simpler, smarter and easier as the world’s first Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) dedicated to providing certified Microsoft Response Point services. SMB Phone and our network of dealer/partners currently serve 48 local market areas in Canada with Microsoft Response Point phone systems and SMB Digital Voice service for Response Point. For additional information on Microsoft Response Point, SMB Digital Voice and SMB Phone please visit http://smbphone.ca

SMB Phone Inc.
Media Contact: Trent Johnsen | 1.866.473.0516 | trent.johnsen@smbphone.com

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